TTFB interviews MLB umpire Mike Di Muro: Talks Roy Halladay and UMPS CARE charities auction!

Through The Fence Baseball recently sat down with Mike Di Muro.  Mike worked the home plate during Roy Halladay‘s perfect game last year and most importantly, he chats with us about the UMPS CARE Charities auction that starts March 8th! Mike comes from a family of MLB umpires and we are glad to help UMPS CARE Charities on their upcoming auction. Click here to visit the auction! Help a cause!

As always we are helping the charity as well, 50% of all donations to the site will go toward UMPS CARE Charities! Look over at the right hand side of the page for details.

So we sat down with Mike Di Muro….

TTFB: Safety is a big issue, what equipment do you believe is essential for an umpires’ safety?

In recent years concussions have been at the forefront of safety not just for umpires, but athletes of all ages. Certainly head protection would have to be at the top of the list in terms of umpire safety. I began wearing a helmet style mask back in 2002 and have used a few different models over the years. This past season I started wearing the newly redesigned All-Star helmet. It is extremely comfortable and provides great protection. Late last summer in Milwaukee, Carlos Gomez swung and lost control of the bat. The barrel struck me square on the head and the helmet saved me from not only a serious injury, but beyond a headache, any injury at all.

TTFB: What is the oddest thing anyone has ever told you in an argument during a game?

In the last game of the season last year, Randy Wolf got me pretty good. There was a play that you do not see very often late in the game. The batter’s backswing struck the catcher in the back as he was trying to retire the runner stealing second. This is called back swing interference  and the ruling allows for the runner to return to first and the hitter stays at bat. Some of the players in the Brewers dugout began to yell, unaware that the bat had hit the catcher and finally I turned and tried to explain the ruling. They continued to yell and I saw Randy Wolf in the center and I asked him, “what did you say?” He responded with, “I just wanted to see if you wanted to go out to dinner.” It caught me so off guard and I was essentially rendered speechless. Every one in the dugout began to laugh and I could not help to start laughing as well.

TTFB: What’s the worst day you have had behind the plate?

Anytime you are on a Major League field wearing a uniform, I do not think you can have a bad day. I am so blessed to be doing something that my father did and something I dreamed about since I could remember. There was a night in Houston that I do not recall so fondly. It was early in the game and a runner from third was attempting to score, I watched the throw being released toward home and then I got into position and set my eyes down at the plate area to make the call. Apparently the catcher went to catch the ball and lay down the tag but missed the ball. It hit me squarely in the nose, breaking it and I received 8 stitches at the ER that night to close the wound.

TTFB: Did you think we were going to go the whole interview without asking a question about the Roy Halladay game? What was going through your mind during the game and when did you notice it was happening? Where you able to keep the same strike zone?

It certainly is a career highlight that I won’t soon forget. A perfect game is such a rarity and the fact that only 20 of them have been recorded lends to its historic significance. As an umpire, you just happen to be the one back there when all the stars align and that pitcher and his team are absolutely perfect. As an umpire, your concentration on the game is such that I did not realize it was a perfect game or a no-hitter until the fifth inning. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that there were no hits and I still was not entirely sure if a runner had gotten on base or not. It is just not part of what is going through your mind during a game. I have never been one for umpire career highlights, but view it more as a privilege to be a part of such an incredible moment in baseball history.

TTFB: This will be the 3rd Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction. In 2010, UMPS CARE topped the $48,000 mark. What’s the expectations for this year?

UMPS CARE Charities relies completely on personal donations to exist and operate throughout the year. So as a result, our fundraising events are crucial. I am very excited about this year’s online auction due to the number and quality of items and one-of-a-kind experiences available.

2011 All-Star Game tickets, the chance to watch batting practice from the field at a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium, Green Monster seats for a Red Sox-Yankees game, a tour of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight studio, a signed game-used baseball from Roy Halladay’s perfect game, and a collection of more than 70 Minor League Baseball Suites and Ticket Packages are available online in the 3rd Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction.

I am particular excited about a new part of the auction entitled: “BID FOR A BUCK” Special “Bid for a Buck” auctions, contests, and giveaways will be announced via Twitter and Facebook throughout the 12  day event. Items starting at one dollar and available for a day or less will include game tickets, sportswear, memorabilia, and gift certificates.

Follow UMPS CARE Charities on Twitter @UmpsCare and Facebook for “Bid for a Buck” details.

TTFB: You are the author of the official blog of UMPS CARE Charities and have occasional posts, what do you enjoy most about it and what inspired you to take that on?

In an effort to increase the awareness of the charity and to reach out to more people, we decided to launch the UMPS CARE blog. Our short-term goal was to have a series of meaningful articles and perspectives for the blog to help raise interest in the programs. Beginning this month I will continue that and additional content and formats will be rolled out for the upcoming season. I hope it is something that will continue to grow and gain interest in the future. You can expect more posts and articles in the upcoming season.

TTFB: Tell us about the awesome program of Blue Crew Tickets and how did it start?

Blue for Kids was born from Marvin Hudson and Samuel Dearth. Marvin had been working with at risk youth in his hometown for years and Samuel was a former minor league umpire who had worked with Marvin. It seemed that many of the umpires were doing various programs and events in their hometowns, but there was no structure or organization in place, which all MLB umpires could participate. The three of us got together over one off season and Blue for Kids was born. Having grown up around baseball and having the opportunity to attend games was something I took for granted. It was not long into my Major league career that the realization set in that attending a Major League game was not something everyone had the opportunity to do. A whole host of cultural and monetary factors played a part in that, and forming Blue for Kids would give that opportunity to kids who otherwise would have been left out.

TTFB: BLUE for Kids is a program where each crew brings a Build A Bear Workshop into each hospital to build up each child’s spirits, What’s the feeling like after walking out knowing you made a difference in a child’s life?

There were two memorable experiences that I had and I wrote about them on the UMPS CARE blog. Here are the links:

TTFB: What’s next on the horizon for UMPS CARE, we understand you have a Poker Tournament coming up?

I am excited about the first inaugural UMPS CARE Charity Poker Tournament. We have a great venue in Scottsdale, AZ and some fantastic prizes. You have to sign up and play to see what is in store! The tournament is Sunday, March 20, 2011. Anyone can register and show their skills at Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament and support a wonderful cause. All proceeds benefit UMPS CARE Charities.

TTFB: One last question. Ballplayers get asked the question all the time on how long they see themselves playing for and what will they do when they retire. How long do you see yourself umpiring? Any plans for when you decide to hang them up?

I suppose that we are never promised any day beyond the present one, but I hope to keep umpiring as long as possible. I would like to get my 20 years in and then stay at home and spend some valuable time with my wife and hopefully by then, grandchildren. I currently hold an FAA Commercial Pilot License and would like to start flying often when I retire.


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